How to build an immune system

young worried mother checking sick daughters temperature

One thing I know for certain is that fussy eaters are more prone to sickness. Understandably, parents are willing to feed their fussy eaters with whatever they want to make sure their tummies are full. Unfortunately, fussy eaters usually choose “bad” foods. As a result, they aren’t getting their daily nutrient values.

The parents of one particular client, a little girl from my home town in Newcastle reported the worst cases of constant illness that I had ever heard of. Colds and pneumonia, dry inflamed skin and sore watery red eyes have repetitively hit this little 3-year-old.  Due to back-to-back courses of varying antibiotics, the mother feels like they are on an exhausting theme park ride that never seems to stop.  This girl’s story has inspired me to write this blog.

Note: If you have a child who has been on any courses of antibiotics or penicillin its always recommended to follow up with 30 days worth of a good pro-biotic to replenish the gut flora. Without healing the gut, the absorption of essential vitamins and minerals is severely compromised causing a risk of a reoccurring illness. Always buy your pro-biotic from a health food store and make sure it’s one that is kept refrigerated.

Here are ten suggestions for strengthening your child’s immune system so it can better resist illness:

  1. Vitamin C: No! I don’t mean the little chewable sugar loaded orange tablets that you can buy in a supermarket; I mean the real-deal plant sources delivered in 100% juice! Fruits that are high in vitamin C include oranges, kiwifruit, guava, berries and papaya. Vitamin C is a water soluble nutrient so it needs to be replenished daily. Why not make it a ritual that the whole family enjoys? The most nutritional benefits come from blending a whole food in a high speed blender otherwise juicing machines (preferably cold pressed) are also great.
  2. Bone Broths: There is medicinal theory behind chicken soup being fed to cold sufferers in our parents’ eras. Not only in our culture, has almost every culture throughout history used bone broth for its medicinal benefits of eradicating inflammation and reducing cold symptoms. The longer you cook it (I cook mine for 48 hours) the more beneficial it is as it draws out collagen proteins, minerals and fats that are easily digested and absorbed by your body to heal  in various ways. It is considered a super food and is far more beneficial than taking a supplement.
  3. Liquorice: Colds and flus are just one of the long lists of documented uses for this herb. A regular dose of liquorice will enhance immunity by boosting levels of interferon, a key immune system chemical that fights off attacking viruses. It also has asprin-like properties that are helpful in relieving fevers, soothing pain and helping to relax bronchial spasms.
  4. Zinc: This has become a popular mineral therapy for the common cold. Though there is conflicting information on its benefits. If you’re lacking zinc in your diet then taking zinc upon the onset of a flu can reduce the endurance and severity by up to 50%; however taking an over supplement of zinc has not been proven to provide any benefit at all. Be careful when administering to children as over-dosage can be very dangerous.
  5. Pelargonium or Kaloba (Blackmores): This is a traditional South African medicine now widely used in cough and cold syrups. It is available at most pharmacies or health food stores as kaloba. It effectively treats upper respiratory infections including the common cold, acute bronchitis and strep throat.
  6. Be mindful that some foods can be predisposes for infections. Reactions to allergies and intolerances can sometimes trigger symptoms similar to colds and flus. These symptoms include swelling in the nasal passages, increased mucus production, runny nose and asthma symptoms. Intolerances are much harder to detect than allergies. If you suspect that food may be the cause of ongoing illness, seek advice from a naturopathic practitioner on ways to eliminate suspect foods.
  7. Reduce exposure to high areas of risk. The immune system needs time to re-build. If you suspect your child is catching repetitive illnesses from the local pool or daycares, remove him for a further two weeks after the symptoms have subsided.
  8. Mould exposure: even the most innocuous looking spread on the bathroom ceiling can be highly toxic and can make getting over lung infections next to impossible.
  9. Get outdoors more and bring the outdoors in: Firstly to debunk a myth, we don’t pick up colds and flus from having cold wet hair, forgetting a hat or scarf or from cold weather alone. We get it from being cooped up indoors with germs and viruses. Simply opening a window in the house will exchange stale germ ridden air for fresh air.
  10. Last but by no means least Vitamin D: Vitamin D is commonly known as coming from the sun rays and helping us absorb calcium but it also has many other benefits. Vitamin D is associated with decreased autoimmunity as well as a decreased susceptibility to infection. Cod liver oil is a rich source of vitamin D but good luck getting the kiddies to lick this off a spoon! I like to use 1 drop of vitamin D blended up in my son’s orange juice each morning.

Keep in mind that getting kids to take supplements is a very last resort. A variety of healthy foods is always the first and best option to gaining the best foundations in health. However, there are situations where something more is needed. If you feel that a supplement is necessary, please seek professional advice before administering.

If getting the ‘right’ foods into your child has always been a constant battle and you need help. Please proceed to the contact page and we’ll be in touch.